UPDATE 3: Dammit. My family is watching vote count. I'm so nervous now I can't update. But Ko ahead by 80K with 500K votes counted...
UPDATE 2: Many onlookers reporting that barbed wire and barricades are going up around KMT HQ.
UPDATE 1: This video has been making the rounds (with English) -- CCP supporters in front of Taipei 101 beat a woman, say they want the CCP to come over and eliminate all of the onlookers because Taiwan is China. Well, that little piece of Taiwan certainly is...
I'll be updating this throughout the day...
Election day, my wife and son went out to vote and done. Voting has become a sacred ritual of reproduction of the Taiwan identity, which has incorporated the island's democracy into its heart. How is Beijing going to police this place if it ever takes over?
Once again, if you haven't read it, the Reuters special report on Beijing's drive to absorb Taiwan is dynamite.
Julian Baum has a great piece on the 16 year old running a local candidate's political campaign. Simply awesome.
This WSJ report sensibly notes that China is not all that concerned about the results because it is only a local election and the issues and candidates are local. This restrained and sensible view of the election is at odds with the major media narrative of OMG IT COULD MEAN THE END OF EVERYTHING narrative that many other media are clinging to. For example the BBC trundles out its semiannual Taiwan election narrative: Future of Chinese relations at Stake. It's written by Cindy Sui, whose article is more fair and sensible than the headline makes it out to be. I doubt she was responsible for the headline.
Let's get it out clearly: relations with China are not at stake, and if there is a change, it will be because Beijing makes it. Both sides in Taiwan politics want good relations with China; it is Beijing that chooses whether they will have good relations. This ZOMG DPP WILL CAUSE THE APOCALYPSE narrative that comes out every election is just another version of the zombie media narratives that remove all agency from China, which is simply the helpless prisoner of Taiwan political choices and has no independent will of its own. In other words, it's media bullshit. Imagine if the media treated the election as a test of China's flexibility and good intentions...
Chinese "scholars" weigh in on the election on behalf of the CCP, with some hilarious remarks.
Sheng Jiuyuan, the deputy chief of the Taiwan Studies Center under the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, echoed Yan's view, asking if Ko, who claims he does not know what the 1992 Consensus refers to, is elected, "how can the leaders of the two cities exchange visits in the future under such circumstances?""The LOL factor in this one is high", a friend and Taiwan commentator observed. The PRC does not accept the 1992 consensus, which is a post hoc invention of the KMT. But it looks like it does require that the Taiwanese observe it, in typical PRC fashion. Then again, these are scholars talking in their private capacity, so Beijing has deniability. Nifty, eh? The idea that city-to-city exchanges depend on the 1992 consensus is purely ridiculous. But you know if the PRC cuts off exchanges when Ko is elected.... the western media will be out there blaming the pro-Taiwan side. Except for WSJ.
Frozen Garlic on some campaign ads:
One of the things that I have been particularly perturbed by over the past year is that the KMT has not revolted against President Ma’s leadership. A president with an approval rating consistently below 20% should face challenges to his power. Ma has become somewhat more impotent. The KMT legislative caucus has blatantly refused to follow his orders and pass the Services Trade Agreement or even the Oversight Mechanism. (Ma publicly blames this on the DPP, but if his caucus were united in wanting to pass it, they would pass it. It hasn’t passed because the KMT is divided, and the opponents are more scared of their voters than of President Ma.) However, with such extreme unpopularity, I would normally expect much more blatant rebellion. Finally, these sorts of ads force that tension out into the open.The entire piece is great...
Froze and I both agree that this election is not as meaningful as the media narratives are saying:
In short, this election may be a lot less meaningful than many people believe. If Wu loses in Taoyuan, I might start to buy into the ideas that Taiwanese voters want a wholesale rejection of the comprador class or that significant slices of the electorate were transformed by the Sunflower movement. In the meantime, the least demanding explanation is simply that Sean Lien is going to lose because he was too lazy to spend a year or two intensively preparing for the election.Exactly. The real signal of change is places that no one is paying attention to: Taoyuan, Hsinchu, etc. The Chinatown election between Lien and Ko is just a more colorful variation of politics as usual, and the contest in Taichung has slowly become a feature of local elections, not a test of anything except the candidates' ability to win. The real test is whether the KMT can keep control of places where it always has kept control. And for that, only Keelung has turned and that because the KMT simply fell apart there, not because of any generational thing.
Ralph Jennings' LA Times report on the election shows the threads that connect the financial industry and the KMT at work in the media. Jennings writes:
"If Beijing takes this weekend's results to mean the opposition party is likely to return to power in 2016, it will hold back on any more goodies or sweeteners for Taipei during President Ma Ying-jeou's final 18 months in office," said Sean King, senior vice president at consulting firm Park Strategies in New York and Taipei. "That's because a future opposition government would inherit these wins, and Beijing would then be in a position of having to reverse or revoke them."The observation is as good as it goes, but recall that Park Strategies is very close to and very supportive of the KMT. King is a regular media guest and commentator...
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